Melbourne to Hobart Race Information
|Start Location||Portsea Pier|
|Start Time||1200 noon AEST|
|Start Date||27 Dec 22|
1d 17h 28m 59s Shortwave 2008
Ave Speed over course 10.49kn
|Known also as:||Westcoaster|
About the Race
The ORCV “Westcoaster” is a legendary yacht race where tactics and sailing well can crown you as the race champion, no matter the size of boat.
Across the 435nm passage, yachts contend first with Bass Strait before taking on the wilderness and ruggness of the West Coast of Tasmania and the long ocean swell of the Southern Ocean before turning towards the finish line and the shifting winds of the Derwent.
For 50 years, the Westcoaster has provided sailors a unique race full of tactical challenges.
"35 times but never been the same race" Robin Hewitt
"It's a mind race, as much as it's a physical race" Rod Smallman
"It's the K2 of ocean races, tactical and challenging" Ian Lyall
The Westcoast Challenge
The Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster is a blue water ocean racing classic of unusual challenge in which seamanship, navigation and tactical skills drive the race outcome. Skippers and crews face diverse conditions of sea state and tide uniquely associated with Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean plus wind conditions which normally include all points of sailing.
Its one of the few blue water races open to two handed competitors where short handed sailors compete against fully crewed for the major prizes.
This diversity of racing conditions reinforces the integrity of handicap systems and, as the past winner’s list demonstrates, it’s an open competition. Good boat preparation and a well found yacht are the key requirements - deep pockets are not required in this race which offers, at best, limited advantage from race specific yacht design.
The race starts at Portsea on the last of the outgoing tide with yachts completing the dash to Port Philip Heads, past Lonsdale Reef and clearing the potentially breaking seas at the entrance of Port Phillip Bay before the change of tide. This is the start of the 125 nautical mile Bass Strait crossing heading due south.
Bass Strait’s description as a “notorious piece of water” reflects the choppy and confused waves generated by the Strait’s relatively shallow depth and strong tidal flows - between the southern end of King Island and the Mainland, along the eastern side of King Island and between King Island and the NW corner of Tasmania.
For the yachtsmen the tidal flows between the top of King Island and North West Tasmania are crucial and may affect a yachts race time by as much as 4 hours. The gap is some 35 miles wide and lies diagonally across the shortest course. The navigational objective is to choose a course which maximises speed over the ground allowing for the tidal effects through the gap and wind shifts if one passes close to the north west corner of Tasmania. Its not easy as the transit must be planned hours ahead. If night sailing is involved there are also one or two reefs to consider.
Once through the King Island gap and past the Hally Bayley and Porpoise shoals, (where breakers may be encountered) it’s a whole new world - ocean sailing in long swells, often reaching under spinnaker heading east of west with prevailing westerly winds.
The run down the coast to South West cape is 200NM past Macquarie harbour and the increasingly rugged terrain of Tasmania’s South west. If conditions are light, yachts may pass close inshore to seek advantage of local wind effects.
In other conditions the West Coast may be an altogether story. The south west coasts of Africa and Tasmania have something in common - they both experience large swells originating in the deep South on which, in the case of Tasmania, substantial front induced waves may be superimposed. It may be blowing a steady 35kn with seas of up to 10m – although 5m long wave length swell is more the norm.
In these conditions the 40 nautical mile leg from West Cape due east past Maatsuyker Island to South East Cape can be nothing short of spectacular with many yachts surfing under “storm spinnakers” before heading north of East to Bruny Island and into the relatively sheltered waters of Storm Bay.
Its around 35 nm from Tasman Head at the bottom of Bruny Island to the Iron Pot and then a further 11 nm to the finish. Here the race is all about tactics and trimming and crews who “get this stage of the race right” may well pick up hours against their competitors. The high headlands of Bruny Island area abound in wind shadows and conditions in the last few miles up the Derwent can be complex.
The warmest of welcomes awaits the finishers at the Elizabeth Street Pier. It is a point of honour in this race that no yacht finishes unheralded and many a yachty has been roused from the local watering holes or comfy berth to meet late night or early morning finishers. Somehow a cold slab is always produced no matter what the time and the previous finishers raise three cheers in honour of the crew.
Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster Past Results
The Heemskirk trophy is awarded to the overall winner of the Westcoaster on corrected time using the measurement handicap system with the largest number of entries. Measurement handicap systems have evolved through time. In the past 20 years the most popular measurement handicap systems used in Victoria have been the International Measurement System (IMS), The International Measurement System (IRC) and the Australian Measurement System (AMS). For the past 4 years the overall winner has competed under both IRC and AMS rating systems and has been the leader in both of the Measurement Handicap Divisions. Results since 1999 are given below.
|2021||Faster Forward||R6155||Matt Fahey||1st AMS|
|2019||Archie||SM35||Jeff Sloan||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2018||Whistler||L77||David Alpin||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2017||Alien||R880||Justin Brenan||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2016||Cadabarra 8||R420||Paul Roberts||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2015||eXtasea||G4646||Paul Buchholz||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2014||Seduction||M406||Richard Nichols||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2013||Tevake II||H101||Angus Fletcher||1st AMS, dnc IRC|
|2012||Tevake II||H101||Angus Fletcher||1st AMS, dnc IRC|
|2011||Alien||R880||Justin Brenan||1st AMS, 2nd IRC|
|2010||Enchantress||SA346||John Muirhead||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2009||Alien||R880||Justin Brenan||1st AMS, 2nd IRC|
|2008||Shortwave||52052||Mathew Short||1st AMS, 1st IRC Record Time|
|2007||Race not run|
|2006||A Crewed Interest||SM8008||Eddie Ragauskas/ Martin Vaughan||Ist AMS, Ist IRC|
|2005||Quetzalcoatl||2001||Joshua Ey||dnc AMS, 1st IRC|
|2004||Under Capricorn||B120||Phil Bedlington||1st AMS, 1st IRC|
|2003||Wavelength||SM220||Keith O’Donnell||1st AMS, dnc IRC|
|2002||De Je Blue||H621||John Nielson||1st AMS, dnc IRC|
|2001||Island Trader||SM7681||John Chatham||1st AMS, 2nd IRC|
|2000||Tevake||H101||Angus Fletcher||1st AMS, dnc IMS|
|1999||Cadabarra 7||Nigel Jones||Only boat to finish|
Between 1972 and 1999 the Heemskirk trophy was awarded to the winner under the premier handicapping system of the day but the handicapping systems varied and the system applied in any given year was not necessarily in common use nor system with the most entries.
The Overall winners in this period are listed below.
|1998||Back in Business||M Sabey||1984||Eastern Morning||A J Collins|
|1997||Island Trader||J Chatham||1983||Morning Hustler||J H Cowell|
|1996||Brighton Star||D Gotze||1982||Solandra||W Escott|
|1995||Second Term||Ian Twentyman||1981||Apollo II||J Becher|
|1994||Scarborough of Cerebus||P Briggs||1980||Relentless||Niel Searle|
|1993||By Order of the Secretary||F Billings/J Collins||1979||Hot Prospect||Niel Searle|
|1992||Quit for Life||J Saul||1978||Hot Prospect||Jim Searle|
|1991||Friction||C Laker||1977||Hot Prospect||Jim Searl|
|1990||Paladin||Njones/P Sajet||1976||Monsoon||J Atwood|
|1989||Hummingbird||R Abikhair||1975||Rovama||B J Mercere|
|1988||Prime Suspect||R Abikhair||1974||Pagan||R Hare|
|1987||Challemge 3||E W Wall-Smith||1973||Appaloosa||R T Spence|
|1986||Seaulater||P Gourlay||1972||Ailsa||J Marion|
Results by Division
|2021||Faster Forward - M Fahey||Audere - J Thring||Lord Jiminy - G Leroux||Lord Jiminy - G Leroux|
|2019||Archie - J Sloan||Archie - J Sloan||Soiree Bleu - D Lithgow||Lord Jiminy - G Leroux|
|2018||Whistler - D Alpin||Whistler - D Alpin||Whistler - D Alpin||Oskana - M Pritchard|
|2017||Alien - J Brenan||Alien - J Brenan||Force 11 - Triston Goulay/ Jamie Cooper||Spirit of Downunder - L Ford|
|2016||Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts||Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts||Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts||Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts|
|2015||eXtasea - P Buchholz||eXtasea - P Buchholz||eXtasea - P Buchholz||eXtasea - P Buchholz|
|2014||Seduction - R Nochols||Seduction - R Nochols||Seduction - R Nochols||Spirit of Downunder - L Ford|
|2013||Tevake II - A Fletcher||eXtasea - P Buchholz||Tevake II - A Fletcher||eXtasea - P Buchholz|
|2012||Tevake II - A Fletcher||Bandit - A Trebilcock||Tevake II - A Fletcher||eXtasea - P Buchholz|
|2011||Alien - J Brenan||eXtasea - P Buchholz||Alien - J Brenan||eXtasea - P Buchholz|
|2010||Enchantress - J Muihead||Enchantress - J Muihead||Enchantress - J Muihead||Gusto - Briar Pattinson|
|2009||Alien - J Brenan||Jazz Player - A Lawrence||Jazz Player - A Lawrence||Jazz Player - A Lawrence|
|2008||Tevake II - A Fletcher||Shortwave - M Short||Spirit of Downunder - L Ford||Shortwave - M Short|
|2007||Rudder Cup Centenary - Melbourne Hobart run via Eastcoast only|
|2006||A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan||A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan||A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan||No Fearr - M Hannaford|
|2005||Tevake II - A Fletcher||Quetzalcoatal - J Ey||By Order of the Secretary - G Shaw||Helsal II - B Rawson|
|2004||Under Capricorn - P Bedlington||Under Capricorn - P Bedlington||Under Capricorn - P Bedlington||Quetzalcoatal - J Ey|
|2003||Wavelengtth - J McGill||Magazan 53 - G Roswell||Rumbeat - G Henderson||Indic Merit - D Gotze/I Treleaven|
|2002||De Ja Blue - J Nielsen||Magazan 53 - N McGuigan||De Ja Blue - J Nielsen||Kontrol - P Blake|
|2001||Island Trader - J Chatham||Anaconda - M Contessi||San Miguel - G Clapham||Kontrol - P Blake|
|2000||Tevake - A Fletcher||Colour Solutions* - J Kellett||Anaconda - M Contessi||Wild One - g Smith|
|1999||Cadabarra 7 - N Jones||Cadabarra 7* - N Jones||Cadabarra 7 - N Jones||Cadabarra 7 - N Jones|
|* IMS - IRC introduced in 2001|
|Both IRC and IMS run in 2001 - IMS won by Tilting at Windmills* - T Gunnersen|
Race Documents - Click here
Race Entry - Click here
Yachts Entered - Click here